Theatre in Wales

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Local Pupils Shake Up Shakespeare...     

Pupils from Lewis Girls’ School in Ystrad Mynach will bring Shakespeare to life at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff on Wednesday 19th October 2005 supported by funding from Barclays community investment programme. The cast of 15-16 year olds will perform a thirty-minute version of The Tempest as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival – the UK’s largest and fastest growing theatre celebration. This production is unusual, as the cast is comprised of only seven students, all girls.

“I have learnt a lot about performing on stage. Everything has to be ‘bigger’ than in real life. Through taking part in this festival, we have learnt to work together as a team. I have enjoyed taking part in this project and look forward to performing on the stage in the Sherman Theatre,” said Devhan Cooper, aged 15, who plays Ferdinand.

The Shakespeare Schools Festival enables school children to perform these specially abridged plays in professional theatres. From 3 –21 October, more than 8,000 young actors from 320 schools will re-enact some of the greatest stories ever told in 38 of the country’s most prestigious playhouses, from the Castle in Wellingborough across to the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and down to the Pavilion Theatre in Brighton.

Kevin Spacey, Dame Judi Dench, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sir Tom Stoppard, Nicholas Hytner, Philip Pullman and Cherie Booth QC are among the patrons.

Speaking of his impression of the festival last year, actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah said: “I saw young people of all backgrounds and cultures use this poetic and sometimes difficult language almost as if it were a new fangled street slang, fresh and exclusive to them. It was thrilling beyond words. I only hope that every young person finds a way to tap into this, because I believe that, like me, they will never forget the experience.”

Kathy Brown, Barclays Community Manager for Wales said, “This is a great opportunity for Barclays, to make a real and lasting difference to the local community, making shakespeare accessible to all schools within the locality. As part of the community its vital that we are able to put something back for everyone to enjoy.”

Each school selects one of 13 abridged Shakespeare plays. 12 of the scripts were originally adapted by Leon Garfield in the 1990s for the Emmy award winning S4C/BBC series Shakespeare – The Animated Tales, which has become a major teaching resource in secondary schools. A thirteenth script was adapted earlier this year by Oscar-winning playwright, Sir Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love).

Four schools perform their half-hour plays at the same theatre each night. They are provided with technical support together with the Festival’s distinctive set - the word ‘Shakespeare’ spelt out in giant-sized wooden blocks, with each letter doubling up as a prop. The ’H’ doubles as a throne; the ‘A’ is a six-foot ladder.

The ‘teacher-directors’ from each school are invited to a daylong workshop with the Royal Shakespeare Company while the cast attend a half-day training workshop with Dramarama – a ‘theatre in education’ company.

Tickets for Lewis Girls’ School’s performance on Wednesday 19th October can be purchased through the box office at The Sherman Theatre on 029 2064 6900.


The Shakespeare Schools Festival (SSF) is a unique arts-education initiative which enables children aged 11-15 to perform 30-minute Shakespeare plays in professionally run theatres throughout England and Wales. Now in its sixth year, the festival operates on a triennial cycle, visiting three or four regions each year. The 2005 Festival features Wales, the North East, South East & the East Midlands.

In July 2005, SSF joined forces with the BBC to produce 1 Night of Shakespeare – a UK-wide extravaganza which saw an additional 10,000 young performers from 400 school perform abridged plays in 100 theatre all on one night (Sunday 3 July).

SSF was started in 2001 by Chris Grace MBE, the former director of animation at S4C.

The Board of Trustees include Sir Malcolm Field, Lady Anne Harding, and is chaired by Rupert Pennant-Rea.

The Festival in Wales is supported by the Arts Council of Wales, and the Welsh Assembly Government and sponsored by Barclays. Support also comes from the Local Education Authorities and the Colwinston Charitable Trust in Wales.

In 2004 Barclays global commitment to the community amounted to £32 million, which includes 1% of UK pre-tax profits. As one of the UK’s largest corporate community contributors, the bank aims to achieve real and lasting benefit both for the community and Barclays, by supporting education, social inclusion, people with disabilities, the arts and the environment.

For press information about Lewis Girls’ School’s production of The Tempest, contact Mrs Southern or Mrs Burrage on 01443

For further information about the Shakespeare Schools Festival, visit

schools shakespeare festival  
web site

Sunday, October 16, 2005back



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